With a Connecticut legislator presiding, the political lightning rod known as ALEC opened its annual conference in Chicago Wednesday, promoting a business agenda and drawing fierce protests from labor and questions about its scholarships for lawmakers.
House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, is one of the attendees. This year’s conference is a first for Cafero, who is attending in part as a gesture of support to a member of his caucus, Rep. John E. Piscopo of Thomaston, who is serving a term as the national president of ALEC.
“We’re very proud of him,” Cafero said.
Despite Piscopo’s prominent role, ALEC-backed legislation has not advanced in Connecticut, where Democrats control both houses of the General Assembly, and organized labor often speaks with the loudest voice at the State Capitol.
In addition to Piscopo and Cafero, the other House GOP members registered to attend are Laura Hoydick of Stratford, Themis Klarides of Derby, Jason Perillo of Shelton, Rosa Rebimbas of Naugatuck and Sean Williams of Watertown.
ALEC’s website lists state Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, as state chairman, but Cafero and others said they thought Witkos had recently resigned. Witkos could not be reached for comment, and Piscopo did not respond to a request for an interview.
ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.
Who funds ALEC?
More than 98% of ALEC’s revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009. It has also received grants from some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as: the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation, the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation, to name a few. Less than 2% of ALEC’s funding comes from “Membership Dues” of $50 per year paid by state legislators, a steeply discounted price that may run afoul of state gift bans. For more, see CMD’s special report on ALEC funding and spending here.
This is a partial list of Connecticut politicians that are known to be involved in, or previously involved in, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It is a partial list.
House of Representatives
Rep. Al Adinolfi (R-103); Health and Human Services Task Force
Rep. Bill Aman (R-14); Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force, Civil Justice Task Force 
Rep. Penny Bacchiochi (R-52); International Relations Task Force
Rep. Whit Bett (R-78); Health and Human Services Task Force
Rep. Fred Camillo, Jr. (R-151), ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force member
Rep. Vincent J. Candelora (R-86); Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force
Rep. Christie Carpino (R-32); Civil Justice Task Force 
Rep. Dan Carter (R-2); Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force 
Rep. Christopher Davis (R-57); Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force
Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R-112), State Chairman; Public Safety and Elections Task Force 
Rep. Themis Klarides (R-114); Public Safety and Elections Task Force 
Rep. David K. Labriola (R-131); Civil Justice Task Force
Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143); Education Task Force
Rep. Timothy LeGeyt (R-17); Education Task Force
Rep. Lawrence Miller (R-122); Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force
Rep. Michael Molgano (R-125); Education Task Force
Rep. Jason Perillo (R-113); Health and Human Services Task Force
Rep. John Piscopo (R-76), Second Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors and Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force and International Relations Task Force member
Rep. Rosa C. Rebimbas (R-70); Communications and Technology Task Force
Rep. John T. Shaban (R-135); Civil Justice Task Force
Sen. Michael McLachlan (R-24); Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force
Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-17), State Chairman 
Rep. Christopher Coutu (R-47); Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force
Former Rep. William Dyson 
Former Rep. Norma Gyle, later became Deputy Commissioner Connecticut Department of Health. 
Former Rep. Bill Hamzy (R-78)
Former Rep. John Harkins (R-120, now Mayor of Stratford, CT), former ALEC State Chair
Former Rep. Robert M. Ward (former House Minority Leader, currently Commissioner, Department of Motor Vehicles, as of 2012), listed in “1999 ALEC Leaders in the States” by ALEC
Former Rep. Lenny T. Winkler 
Former Sen. M. Adela Eads (R), ALEC alumna
Former Sen. George L. “Doc” Gunther (R) (state senator 1966-2006, died 2012), former National Director
Former Sen. Kevin B. Sullivan, Lt. Gov. 2004-2007